Games to Get Students Speaking

Remember all games we liked to play while growing up (and still like to play now)?  There was Scrabble®, Yahtzee®, Sorry®, Monopoly®, Twister®, Ker Plunk®, and many others.  I am finding that even with the invention and arrival of all of the new computer and video games on the market, kids are always content to play the classics once in while.  I think that they are intrigued that you can move game pieces or read a card without having to plug anything in.  This has inspired me to use these classic games in my classroom with my middle school students, with some modifications of course.  The addition of a language-learning component can easily turn these “games” into an enrichment activity.  Sometimes I use the game pieces or the game-board and make up my own rules.  You can be very creative with these “raw” materials.  I simply try to find a way of using a game that I have enjoyed (and have access to) that can have a language objective.

I was recently introduced to the new game LCR® (Left Center Right).   The game is simple and requires very few materials.  There are three dice, each marked with an “L” for “Left”, a “C” for “Center,” and an “R” for “Right.” The other sides have a dot.
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Each player (there should be at least 4) gets three tokens or chips.  Player one begins by rolling the dice.  If he gets an “L” he must pass a chip to the person to his left.  If he gets an “R” he must pass a chip to the person to his right, and if he gets a “C” he must put a chip in the center of the table.  If he rolls a dot he keeps the chip.  The game continues clockwise until one person is left with a chip(s) and he is the winner.  The game is fast-paced and the players constantly say, “two to the left” or “one to the right.”

This is a great game for world language classes, helping students to learn and practice the words for left and right (and sometimes finally be able to distinguish their left from their right.)  I found some blank wooden blocks at a local craft store.  They were very inexpensive, about $4 for a bag of 50.  I took a black marker and wrote the letters “G,” “C,” and “D” on the blocks and put dots on the other sides.  I now have the French version of the game (Gauche, Centre, Droite).  I did the same for my Spanish classes, marking the cubes with “I,” “C,” and “D” (Izquierda, Centro, Derecha).  The students play in a group of five and I give them bingo chips.

This is just one example of using a common game in the classroom.  There is probably a way to use just about any game since communication is typically required.

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